(Juneau) The challenger in the race for Dodge County Sheriff says if he had been in charge, the county never would have spent money on a new countywide records-management package. The $1.1-million-dollar Spillman records management system that went live in December connects 18 local municipal law enforcement agencies together for everything from jail to dispatch to patrol. After only three years in operation, the county pulled the plug on Spillman ‘s predecessor, the $530-thousand-dollar New World system, after complaints from multiple agencies about its reliability.
Lt. Jim Ketchem says that he believes the issues with New World could have been worked out. Ketchem told us Monday on WBEV’s Community Comment that a software package as large as New World and Spillman cannot have everything work perfectly with the flip of a switch. Ketchem says there were issues with both systems but he does not believe that switching without trying to work longer with New World was worth the $1-million dollar investment. He says that “may have been too quick” and if given the opportunity, he would have kept New World.
Ketchem says replacing Spillman would be an absolute last resort as it would be fiscally irresponsible to the taxpayers to replace another records management system. When asked about sticking with New World, Ketchem’s opponent, Sheriff Dale Schmidt, told us that New World was “plagued with stability issues causing system-wide crashes at critical times which is not the case at all with Spillman.” The few issues with Spillman, he says, are simply preference-related. Schmidt also noted that the county board voted unanimously to switch systems as he says they clearly saw the concerns.
Sheriff Dale Schmidt statement on New World:
“A decision to move away from New World did not occur until late in 2015. We conducted a Request for Proposals in early summer of 2015 to put New World on notice that we were serious in hopes that they would take significant action to correct the major system problems they had and to also be ready in case they were not. New World was plagued with stability issues causing system wide crashes at critical times which is not the case at all with Spillman. The few issues we have with Spillman are simply preference issues and proposals for improvements to the usability of the system. Our County Information Technology Department was beyond frustrated and spent more of their time trying to fix New World Issues than on any other system in the county, even 2 years after implementation which was a huge expense to the tax payers.. Every time an update was put into place, it broke more the system causing more work for county staff and legitimate officer and public safety concerns in the community. Eventually it was decided to stop doing updates for this reason knowing we were moving in a different direction, but it again became a problem to not complete updates as the system began to break due to not updating.
Further, in 2014 there was outcry from the staff of the Sheriff’s Office regarding the New World System and the officer safety concerns presented by that system. Letters to the editor from a multitude of law enforcement and communications officers came out expressing grave concerns. The County Board voted 31-0 to switch systems as they clearly saw the same concerns our agency saw. 31-0 is a huge statement on such a large purchase such as this. Subsequent to the purchase of Spillman, buy in from every agency in the county was requested as part of a participative venture to build the system the best we were able. Unfortunately only a select group participated fully, and those who actively participated as requested, are seeing the benefits of the system.
As recent as today, I received a phone call from Sacramento California who is having the exact same issues with a failed implementation of New World and looking for ways to get their money back. There have been horror stories across the country such as at SNOPAC/SNOCOM in Washington State, and in various agencies in Maine and Indiana, just to name a few.
Finally, I find it interesting that my opponent feels we should have stuck with a failed system, considering a major player in that original failed implementation of New World, Pat Ninmann, is currently employed by that same company and she is also a major supporter and player in the campaign to elect my opponent. That certainly seems to be a major conflict of interest.”
FULL VIDEO and AUDIO
Watch our interview with incumbent Sheriff Dale Schmidt:
Watch our interview with Lt. Jim Ketchem:
Listen to our interview with Lt. Jim Ketchem:
Listen to our interview with Sheriff Dale Schmidt: